(NEW YORK) — The ex-stepmother of the man who killed six people in a Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin Sunday said she doesn’t know what happened to Wade Michael Page that made him turn a semi-automatic handgun on unarmed worshippers. Still, Laura Page questioned what impact his military service may have had.
“The last time I saw Wade was at Christmas time and he was very happy with the military at that point,” Page told ABC News, referring to Christmas 2001, a few years after he left the service. “Now I greatly question that direction. I don’t know if the military was good for him. I don’t know. I wish I had some answers. And we’re not going to have answers because he’s dead.”
Wade Michael Page was killed after he opened fire on police officers shortly after the Sunday massacre. He had served six years in the U.S. Army in the 1990s, including a stint in psychological operations, before being discharged and deemed “ineligible for re-enlistment.”
Laura Page said she hadn’t been in contact with Wade for a long time but the boy she remembers was a “lovely, gentle child.”
“I can’t imagine what could have gone through his mind for him to do something like this, or anyone to do something like this,” she said. “You can’t be functioning normally obviously. But we’ll never know why.”
Civil rights groups had tracked Page for more than a decade as he moved through skinhead circles, most prominently as the lead of a white power rock group called End Apathy.
Heidi Beirich, who tracks extremist music groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that Page was one of many people the SPLC was keeping tabs on in the sprawling underground skinhead rock scene.
“You never know with a particular individual,” she told ABC News. “[But] this is a world of violence.”
Page appears to have moved to the Milwaukee area this year, where neighbors said he was not very friendly.
“Very standoffish. He didn’t communicate at all,” neighbor David Brown said. “On a one to 10 scale, I would say about 1.5. He’s not real friendly.”
Page reportedly bought the nine millimeter handgun legally just week before the fatal shooting.
His immediate family issued a text to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying they were “devastated by the horrific events.”
“While there can be no words of comfort that will make sense of what happened that day, please be aware that our thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and their families. We share in their grief,” the statement said.
For all his efforts to be part of the neo-Nazi world, some of the most prominent websites of the white power movement condemned the attack and labeled Page as crazy and a coward.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jon Ostrower and Rene Marsh, CNN
Jackie Wattles and Amanda Barnett, CNN
Paul R. La Monica, CNN
Madeline Holcombe, CNN